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$600,000 to Help G1 Develop Drugs

$600,000 to Help G1 Develop Drugs [the News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)]

From News & Observer (Raleigh, NC) (September 19, 2012)

Sept. 19--G1 Therapeutics, a Chapel Hill startup that aims to commercialize technology developed at UNC-Chapel Hill, has raised $600,000 to accelerate its drug-development efforts.

As part of the new funding, Christy Shaffer, managing director of Hatteras Discovery, which provided the funding, has joined G1 as executive chair. Shaffer, the former CEO of Inspire Pharmaceuticals, said in an interview that she will devote 1-1/2 days a week to G1, functioning in effect as an interim CEO. She will focus on business strategy and facilitating advancement of the company’s first drug into clinical trials, a move that requires Food and Drug Administration approval.

Shaffer said G1 will eventually recruit a full-time CEO, with the timetable pegged to the company’s development.

Jay Strum, G1’s president, said the company had hoped all along to obtain business expertise as well as funding from an investor.

"We’re all a bunch of scientists, you know," Strum said. G1 has just three full-time employees whose work is supplemented by contractors and by outsourcing. Strum is a veteran of 15 years at GlaxoSmithKline, including a stint as a director in the company’s genomics unit.

Shaffer said she is impressed at how far G1 has been able to advance its "really excellent and innovative science" given its limited resources. A key attraction, she added, is that G1 is in position to begin clinical trials of its first drug within two years.

Hatteras Discovery is the seed-funding unit of Durham venture capital firm Hatteras Venture Partners. G1 previously raised more than $4 million in federal and state grant money, including grants from the federal Small Business Investment Research program and the N.C. Biotechnology Center.

G1’s drug discovery pipeline includes several compounds that are aimed at protecting bone marrow, kidneys and other organs from damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Its technology also has the potential to treat radiation poisoning caused by terrorist attacks.

G1 was founded in 2008 by Norman Sharpless, associate director for translational research at UNC’s Lineberger Cancer Center, and Kwok-Kin Wong, scientific director at the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The company’s core technology was licensed from UNC.

The company’s name stems from the technology’s ability to prevent cell damage during the phase of the cell cycle that scientists call G1.

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Posted: September 2012

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